I don’t know whether I had an ulcer or not, but that really isn’t the point. I had ulcer-like symptoms, at least as diagnosed by WebMd, and that’s all that matters.
It’s like the heat index. It doesn’t matter that it’s only 94 degrees when it feels like 104. Every old person will tell you, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”
And I had a discomfort index of “ulcer.” Lots of acid, little appetite, the general sense that vomiting wasn’t eminent, but was nonetheless possible if something sudden happened. You tend to move and eat slowly when you have a discomfort index of ulcer.
One of the alleged perpertators of ulcers is coffee, apparently so much so that when you tell someone with medical leanings that you suspect you may have an ulcer, the first thing they ask you is, “Do you drink a lot of coffee?”
I do. Not an irresponsible amount, I don’t think. Not a young-doctor-in-residency amount. Not a Bill Snyder amount. Not a Bill Lumberg amount. But I drink it every day, sometimes several times a day. I like the taste, and I like the way it makes me feel. And I like that it’s really, really inexpensive compared to other drugs like alcohol and LSD.
This has been a life-long deal, really. You must know that I have intriguing parents. They were protective of my mind, but not necessarily of my body. Got my first pocket knife at 6. At 10, I drove a car for the first time. At 12, I went dove hunting by myself. But I could not (openly) listen to Green Day or play Mortal Combat.
Anyway, by age 7, I was regularly drinking coffee at church (black, with two teaspoons of sugar), and I never really stopped.
But with a WebMD-diagnosed ulcer, I had to cut it off. Beginning five days ago, I stopped drinking coffee, and I am miserable. The whole time, I have felt the way someone feels just before they get a cold. Just kind of draggy and stuffy and disengaged.*
*This may be because I have had a cold for the last two days, and not because I stopped drinking coffee. But I doubt it.
Coffee just goes well with my life. I like to wake up and start reading the newspapers (online only, of course) while I sip my Folgers in my sweatpants.* I like to have a cup as I sit down to write. Something about it seems to help. I use coffee strategically, too. If I’m not feeling up for a run, I’ll have a cup and in 30 minutes I’m getting after it. I like to finish off a particularly satisfying meal with a cup, too. Just seems to cap everything off. Sometimes, I even drink coffee because there’s nothing else to do.
*One of the greatest benefits of being a sportswriter is that I get to wake up whenever I want to, almost every single day. Most people can’t even imagine this. It’s absolutely glorious. The pay stinks and sometimes the hours are inconvenient and there are some indignities involved. But I basically get to do what I want, when I want, except on game days.
The thing is, going without coffee isn’t like going without other drugs, I don’t think. I don’t necessarily feel anything I would describe as “withdrawal.” I seem to have been functioning OK, although I will note that I haven’t written anything that was any good in those four days. I haven’t had any headaches.
I think I could live without coffee. I just can’t think of any reason I’d want to.
As a matter of fact, I’m firing up a pot right now.